The Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival


Taiko drums, martial arts, Ikebana, sushi,a lantern lighting festival and other aspects of Japanese culture were featured at the annual Como Park Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival on Sunday, August 16 on the grounds of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in Como Park. The theme of this year’s event was the “Spirit of Music” and guests were invited to immerse themselves in Japanese culture by participating in numerous folk dances, enjoying taiko drums and singing along with choral groups. This event was reminiscent of Japan’s annual Obon holiday.

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Obon is an important Japanese cultural and family holiday, at which ancestral spirits are said to revisit their families for three days. Families pay their respects at gravesites and put out offerings of food and drink on a tray before household altars. They also light lanterns or small fires outside the house to symbolically guide the souls to the home. On the last evening of Obon, lanterns again guide the spirits back to their resting places.

At dusk, as the entertainment wrapped up, the day culminated with six stone lanterns and floating paper lanterns throughout the Japanese garden pond and the Frog Pond to create a vision of peacefulness and harmony to commemorate the dead.

Trang N. Do is a photographer in the Twin Cities. See more of his photography at


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